Who would have thought that the season of sun-kissed skin, balmy evenings and beer gardens would have arrived so quickly? Perhaps it doesn't feel that fast – winter was a long old slog. But it's here, anyway, and with it comes the opportunity for us all to shed layers (both literally and figuratively), leave the house without a coat and feel the breeze on our skin.
It's also the chance to embrace all of fashion's most joyful trends for spring/summer 2022. But rather than pursuing any flash-in-the-pan prints, shapes or pieces in particular, it's more important than ever to invest in great clothes that will last forever. Happily, designers have been banking on dresses – the easiest of outfits – for many seasons now, putting them front and centre of their collections in all their glorious forms.
At this weekend's men's shows in Milan, soaring temperatures meant that dresses were pretty much the only thing on the menu off the catwalk. And over at New Look, the retailer has experienced a search increase of 4,850% for 'summer dresses 2022 UK' since the heatwave started this month. Clearly, the dress isn't going anywhere.
What are the best summer dresses for 2022?
What type of dress to go for? Well, if fashion has its way we'll be embracing anything super-short, super-tight and/or super-sheer. A new appetite for overtly sexy dressing has been led by designers such as Supriya Lele, Coperni and Nensi Dojaka, who has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the past year alone.
Despite only graduating from her MA at Central Saint Martins in 2019, Dojaka has already dressed Zendaya, Bella Hadid, Hailey Bieber, Emily Ratajkowski, Adwoa Aboah, Lily Aldridge, Michelle Dockery and Rihanna, who have all embraced her contemporary take on bodycon with full gusto. It's not just for the famous among us, however. Browns says it has seen 'an uplift in dresses with shorter lengths and in body-hugging shapes that embrace the contemporary ‘sexy-dressing’ trend.'
Of course, this is most likely a direct effect of a pandemic, which left us all reaching for anything elasticated, fleecy and comforting. Now, we're back in society and, apparently, all longing for dresses which are made to be seen. As Browns also told me: 'Going-out dresses are in high demand, with our customers continuing to purchase styles that exude confidence and glamour. Desired products range from dazzling crystal embellishments from Tbisili-based Mach & Mach, to alluring corsetry options in exclusive muted and pastel tones from firm-favourite Australian label Dion Lee, as well as high-octane hues from ROTATE's exclusive capsule that we collaborated with the brand on.'
If the very thought of bearing any skin above your knees fills you with horror, don't despair. While this penchant for sex appeal might have preoccupied some designers this season, there are plenty of others who designed dresses which don't come with their own nudity warning.
Net-a-Porter has just launched a dedicated dresses campaign, for example, which declares that 'the new perspective on dresses is all about ease and finding the style to suit your mood.' This includes everything from floral prints to acid-bright hues to oversized silhouettes – anything, and everything, goes. On the hunt for easy, breezy summer dresses which are still championing Little Women ](https://graziadaily.co.uk/fashion/shopping/prairie-dress-trend-little-women/)vibes? [Dôen is for you, with its shirred maxis and ruffle-detail smocks.
There's also the fact that some of the dress's loudest advocates – including Simone Rocha, Cecilie Bahnsen and Molly Goddard – are still counting on oversized silhouettes, which are universally appealing.
Indeed, dresses do take a lot of the faff out of getting dressed, largely because they're a ready-made outfit waiting to be worn.
What are the best summer dresses on the high street?
The high street is also awash with summer dresses of all shapes and sizes, including some which are already so popular they have a waiting list. Kitri's stripe midi, for example, had a waiting list of over 100 people when it first dropped, while its Genevieve dress has also enjoyed storming success.
At M&S, the best-seller so far has been this £39.50 animal print midi. While it has sold out completely online, you might be able to find it at your local store or, failing that, sign up for updates so that you can be notified when it's back in stock.
The thing these dresses all have in common? They're made to be worn, to be lived in – whether you're working from home, commuting, doing the school run or meeting friends for lunch. Some will even work for weddings, christenings and all those life events we can finally celebrate once more.
Without further ado, here are the best summer dresses of the year.